Friday, March 22, 2013

Defending the Stay at Home Mom

To preface this post, I am not debating what is right or wrong. I truly, with 100% of my being, believe every person has something that works for them. Every woman out there has a worthwhile job and is important. We need working mothers. We need stay at home mothers. This is not to preach what I think YOU should be doing. This is simply to defend what I AM doing.

I went to a meeting the other night with a handful of other moms.

They were all super super sweet women that I am so glad I got to know. I was the only stay at home mom, though. The others all worked at least part time, but the majority were full time.

I left feeling like such an under-achieving bum. Nothing that the other moms did made me feel this way- they didn't say anything or even (unintentionally) imply anything.

But after listening to them talk about their careers and their billable hours and their employers, I left thinking, "I'm just a stay at home mom."

And it really upset me.

Why does our country feel the need to only accept women as important or successful if they are juggling a career and family? Why can't "just a stay at home mom" be looked at as successful?

Is it because I'm not making money? Not tapping into my brain power or skills I learned in college? Is it because I'm not "contributing to society?"

I just don't get it. Where it was once an honor to be a mother, I feel that a lot of times we are dubbed as people "who couldn't do anything else so she's just a mom now." Do you even want to know how many times I've heard that statement??? Honestly.

Do you want to know how many times someone has asked me what I do, and when I replied with, "I'm a stay at home mom" they looked at me with these "Oh you poor thing" eyes? Like it was a punishment and not a choice!

Folks, being a stay at home mom IS a profession!!!! It IS my job. Sure I don't go into the office, but believe me, I spend my day working!

Just like the daycare worker or the nanny that some pay or the teacher, I am a child's caregiver.

Some might say, "Yes, but I have a career, then come home to be a wife and mother." And yes, they are correct. But my job doesn't end at 5:00 either. I have my career all day long, too.

I don't get a paycheck, I don't answer to an employer (other than my 2.5 year old and 13 month old), and I don't report to an office, but I work my tail off all day long. I'm up at the crack of dawn (just like a "working" mother)- after being up all night, too!- working all day until the last one is down and toys are picked up and dishes are done and clothes are folded. I, too, struggle to find time to work out, go to the grocery store, and have enough energy left at the end of a day to be a good wife to my husband.

Girls, we ALL have the same struggles even if they look a little different in how they play out. We all long to do it all and make it all work.

Society is going to judge us for choosing to go back to work when our baby is six weeks old, and judge us if we choose to just stay at home with our kids. They will judge us if our kids go to daycare while we work, and judge us for putting them in Mother's Day Out while we stay at home. People will tell us how whatever we have chosen for ourselves and our families is the wrong choice.

Instead of judging each other, fellow moms, let's support each other. Let's validate the important roles that we ALL have.

Some of us are meant to stay home, some of us are meant to teach, some of us are meant to be your doctors, and others of us are meant to do your taxes.

Please realize that every single profession, including just staying at home, has an important and direct impact on all of us. Every job is worthy, and every choice is valid.

And in the end, we are all mothers. We all love our children. And we all will do whatever it takes to be the best dang moms we can be. And no one should question that.


the blogivers said...

Preach it, preacher!

Tasha said...

Well said. I, too, am a stay at home mother. I don't regret my decision because my daughter is extremely smart, kind, and inquisitive. There are hard days, but when I'm ready to transition back into the working world, I know that I will truly know what I want. Stay at home mothers are loyal, dedicated, hard working, and determined. Employers would be crazy not to hire someone with those important skills. Enjoy your kiddos! When you are ready to work outside of the home again, you will be better than ever! Love your blog!

Reda Hicks said...

Ironically enough, I'm the flip side of the same coin. I get the same "sorry for you" eyes from the moms who get to do midday group activities, or volunteer in their kids' schools, and so on,when they hear about my work. At the end of the day, that expression really just means "oh man, I would really hate that." And I have started trying to get myself to recognize that MOST of the time, it's not a judgment about me at all, but rather it's the other woman's split-second affirmation of her own choices by identifying what she doesn't want. Those moments just highlight what is true: no two moms are alike. Some really would be miserable staying at home, while others would really be miserable being away from it. Neither is right or wrong, unless you're choosing it to please others rather than doing what your heart tells you is best for you and your family.

I think in general working moms respect SAHMs a lot more than SAHMs think, and the reverse is also true. We think otherwise (all of us) because we are so insecure and afraid of making the "wrong" choices in the raising of our children that we each carry some guilt in our own walk. In that respect, we're really all kindred spirits.

So I now have a pact with another mom that when one of us is feeling insecure about our "mommyhood" choices (or just plain defensive), we always provide each other with the same advice: "Stop it!" :)

Emily said...

Well said! You are DEFINITELY contributing to society by raising good, kind kids that will someday do something great, whether it be a rockstar SAHM or CEO!

I agree with Reda... I feel like I get judged for going to work, or even worse, the fact that I don't actually go to an office everyday and work from home but still take my kid to 'school.' People don't get that there is no way I could do my job if he was here with me.

I have NO DOUBT that you are working your butt off everyday. I'm exhausted just having Carson all day on a Saturday or Sunday by myself and sometimes don't think I could be a full-time SAHM. It's not really a feasible option for us now, so I don't really get to make that choice.

You are doing AWESOME and people will always judge no matter which shoes you are in, so just SHAKE THEM HATERS OFF!!! :-)

The Torno's said...

Reda said everything I wanted to say :) I get plenty of grief/ sad looks because I'm a "working" mom. And I feel guilty about it almost daily. I think every mom should appreciate what a SAHM mom's job is/ would be like, and if they don't, they probably aren't spending enough time with their kids when they're out of the office.

Brittany Sciba said...

Ditto Sciba :)

The Joiners said...

I would love to be able to be a SAHM after the babies arrive... not in the cards for now, but hopefully one day! Definitely the most important job out there and I hate to think that I'll be "outsourcing" it in a few months :o/ Although admittedly I'm sure there will be days that I'll be thankful to leave the diaper-changing and spit-up cleaning to someone else for a few hours of relative peace and quiet :)

Anonymous said...

Just a blog stalker, but felt like saying something. I am a working mother (aren't we all) that works outside the home. By neccessity and also by choice. I was trying to put into words how I felt and also give some uplifting words to you about how you felt. Then, I read Reda Hicks comment above. DITTO to everything she said. And then I realized that two others had already "ditto'd"!

Gillian said...

I'm so glad you wrote this. I was just at a book club meeting the other night with all my fellow working mom friends (I'm a SAHM) and I left feeling the exact same way you did -- like a worthless blob. So glad to see I'm not the only one who felt that way once... but also so glad to have a reminder that we are doing some really hard, important work! thanks :)

Michelle said...

Preach it sista :) I agree that it's different for each mom and their situation. YOU are doing a fabulous job with your children though and work harder than 99 percent of people I know!!! :) And, your children are awesome to show what great work you've been doing! You have nothing to feel guilty or bummed about!!

The Scott Family said...

Girl...Amen. I think we just have to have each other's backs no matter what we choose. And just for specific support...I think you are doing an AMAZING job with your kiddos. I, too, have felt internal pressure to go back to work...not from anyone specific but for the whole "achievement" thing. However, when I really think about my goals for my is best for me to be at home right now. I would never want to go back to work because that is what is expected of me from society. I want to go back if that is what I want or what is best for my family.

Monica H. said...

I've never met you but can tell from your blog that you're not "just a stay-at-home-mom". Keep up the great work!

I enjoy the achievement and respect I've earned at my job, but there are days I wish I could trade it for being "just-a-stay-at-home mom." (Ok, everyday. But I'm a new mom and still adjusting.)

I think it will always be one of those mommy guilt things, no matter if you are a SAHM or a working mom. And I agree with everyone that we should all be supportive and encouraging of each others choices. We're all trying to do our best for our families!

Ashley said...

As a full-time work at home (by choice!) mom, I can tell you that caring for the kids on my days off is WAAAAYYYYY harder than my career job. Kudos to you.

Leah said...

Love this post! Of course both choices have their ups and downs. They are hard in different ways. I agree we need to stop judging each other and just show some mercy! :)

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your post and respect your feelings, but maybe I'm not normal here. I am totally content with my decision to stay home and have never had anyone make me feel like less of a person for doing so. I hate to hear that so many moms (who've commented on your post) feel that they've been discriminated against or felt bad because of their decision to work outside of the home or stay at home. Maybe ir's because of the people and community that I'm surrounded by or because I'm living in my own bubble, but I don't have these feelings you all do. I wish you all much contentment an happiness in the work we all do as mother's no matter if you work outside the home or stay at home!

Jason and Jenny said...

Well said Courtney! It's what I have always wanted to say about both sides of the coin but could not find the right words! I think sahm's are the best and most every working mother envies the stay at home mom! I hope nothing I have ever posted has made you feel like I've judged you because I admire you and look up to you as a mother!

Sarah said...

Totally know your feelings. I'm the only SAHM in our neighborhood. It's usually me and the nannies chilling at the playground. When we have ladies night, I feel like a dummie. :( Not their fault either.

You are right, we work our tails off too!

Mommy Guilt. It's in all of us. "We should be staying home." "I should we working outside the home." The Guilt is in our veins. We just need to soak up every minute of which ever path we choose! Embrace it all!

Kelli said...

I have read so many blogs, emails, facebook posts, and "debates" on this issue. I'm glad you shed light and validity to both sides. This is so WELL said, Courtney. And like someone else commented, WHO SAYS YOU AREN'T "contributing to society?!? You are raising children who will be great law-abiding, productive citizens someday. And judging from all your photos on facebook, a "blob" is hardly the word I would use to describe you as a SAHM....I mean really. How many times DO you have to pick up those toys/cabinets/ folded clothes that sweet hurricane Charley plays with?

Love you and miss you. Wish you could be over here in Germany with all of our fun SAHM and babies!!

Erin+Josh said...

It's the toughest job there is! Next time some one asks what you do, say I run a kick ass daycare in my home...I'm a teacher...I'm a psychiatrist...I'm a house keeper...I'm a many things!

Also, when you use the word "just" as in just a stay at home mom, it adds a negative spin to it, you're proud! And great! NOT "just" anything.

Casey Charles said...

Great post. At the end of the day, we are all Moms. Every Mom is still "on call" at 10pm whether they work in an office during the day or if they work at home taking care of the kids. If staying at home with kids were all just fun and giggles, we wouldn't PAY nannies and day cares to take care of our kids for us! As a working mom, I will say that there are many days where it is so painful to pull out of that driveway to come to work, feeling like you are missing out. Other days, I am grateful for a little reprieve! I would hope that all Moms can see both sides of the coin and recognize the basic fact that we are all full time Mommas who only want the best for our babes!

Annie Gruetzmacher said...

Courtney, I LOVE this post! I stumbled upon your blog and this post and it is AMAZING! I totally agree with everything that you said, and sadly, the SAHM just isn't what it used to be anymore. My mom and I were actually talking about this the other day, trying to figure out what's different now than when I was growing up. I think SAHM's almost have it harder now, bc they are far and few between. All of my mom's friends in the neighborhood were SAHM's and they would all get together every day practically while we played with the kids and they did their thing too. It's so different now and the mom carries that burden all day long, pretty much primarily on herself. No breaks, outlets, or help from friends or other women. And if they do get those breaks, it's far and few between. It's another reason why I think people are having less kids. Anyways, if we had more SAHM's, I think it would make it even THAT MUCH BETTER!!!

-Annie (Lukefahr) G.